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She saved and she saved

September 1, 2015

for the last six weeks she’s been saving.

Well that’s not strictly true, she’s been saving for the last two years… every penny she picks up, every note or coin she’s given, they all go into her piggy bank, her hand painted and very loved pink pank (as she calls it), or the rabbit pank … a hand painted glazed rabbit with a slot in the top. Every now and again we go to the bank and we deposit money into her account. It’s always an adventure, and the receipts are kept like golden tickets as special treasures.

So she’s been saving for ages, but for the last weeks it’s been for something particular. Read more…

Let it be known …

August 17, 2015
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Let it be known, that from here on in a pachyderm (and more specifically the one with the trunk) will officially be known as an EFFALUNT…

most of her funny terms for things (well the ones she started when she was two), have gone and been replaced by the proper word, but effalunt seems to have embedded itself into all of our vocabularies … the word elephant sounds all wrong now.

She’s also changed the way I greet people who I’ve met at least once before, no more, “hello how are you?” or “long time no see” or even, “who are you?”

now it’s an exuberant point of my index finger directly at them and

“It’s you again!”

This is quite the best form of greeting and one she’s taken to the next level in terms of making people smile, of opening conversations and of getting over awkward introductions.

How long is long enough?

August 5, 2015
KBBF
I wrote this for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2015 around their theme of Extended Breastfeeding.

Read more…

Big Book News …

June 11, 2015

Today, Thursday June 11th, exactly four weeks to the day, since that wet and soggy book launch, the paperback edition of Milky Moments is being released.

That in itself is newsworthy and exciting, but not for any other reason than it’s (also) a lovely edition … the note worthy part, the truly newsworthy and really exciting part is that it was due to be released in September 2015… but, due to the massive demand for Milky Moments, the first run of the hard back edition of Milky Moments has all but sold out.

SOLD OUT!!!!!!!!

The publisher generously acknowledged he’d been ‘caught short’ by the demand when he sent me a rather lovely Congratulations email … he wasn’t the only one. My jaw is still on the ground, people didn’t just buy the book, they liked it and they bought it in the droves … all round the world!!!!

The paperback edition of Milky Moments has released today, a full three months early. The current plan is for the hardback to be reprinted and it should be on shelves and virtual shelves again later in the summer.

A tiny bit of me feels sad that we have to stop selling the beautiful hardbacks for now, and is apprehensive that the paperback won’t be as cherished and loved as the hardback is. People have described it as a book to keep, to hand down to children’s children and so on, I don’t know if a paperback will elicit the same emotional response. I’ve looked online and it’s there, Milky Moments is ‘live’ in full paperback glory. We’ll have to work again to build up the huge number of Facebook likes the hardback has generated (over 500 to date on its page on the Pinter and Martin site), and the tweets and shares … but we’ll get there, and in the meantime the my Milky Moments F page is getting ever more popular and ever more active http://www.facebook.com/milkymomentsbook with all the latest news, updates and reviews .

So, there you have it, my news, the news, the BIG NEWS of the day on June 11th, a lovely normal funny beautiful important little book, one that a fair few people doubted, has sold out (well almost … there are a few hardback copies in the Cherry Hinton Road Post Office in Cambridge (I love that they were the first shop to put it on their shelves in the UK as it is where I posted the signed Milky Moments contract back to Pinter and Martin from), and at the Barn in Kneesworth and a bookshop called Liber in Sligo and a few other independent bookshops, and I’m taking some to various fairs, festivals and shows over the next week or two, and there are a few left on the publishers site … but the distributors warehouse has none left, instead there are now boxes of Milky Moments paperbacks which will be winging their way around the world… and now on sale.

So if you want a hardback, a first edition print run hardback, then chip chop and buy one before they’re gone and become a valuable collectors item!

UK retail price for Milky Moments paperback should be £6.99 (are we EVER going to pay back our advance? it will take much longer now before any Royalties appear!!), the paperback is up for £5.99 on the Pinter and Martin site … which seems almost insultingly cheap for all our hard work!

Go, click like on the paperback page, share the link, buy the book, it’s on Amazon too and other sites all round the world … as is the Kindle edition! (Really, who reads children’s picture books to their children on a Kindle … maybe lots of people do … call me old fashioned but … sigh … anyway, it’s there if you want it!)

Look forward as I do, as Jess also does, to the reprinted hardback edition being back on sale again very soon.

Ha … who’d have thought it?!

Sold out …

hard and paperbck3

Side by side, the two first editions of Milky Moments. Hardback and paperback, on the publisher’s bookshelves.

 

now there’s a thing!

hard and paperback 2

hard back and paperback

Book bits … a launch retrospective.

June 11, 2015
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Four weeks ago I was left feeling as if my head had exploded … shivering, numb and in shock. No, nothing bad had happened, in fact something amazing had happened, something I never dared imagine.

My book had been published and the book launch had just finished.

At about 6.30pm on Thursday 14th May, I was sitting in a marquee with only half the sides on it, rain was pouring down, my mother had been given a lift home and taken my car keys back with her, so small person and I were left waiting for them to be returned after everyone else had gone. Read more…

The 1000 yard dash

May 30, 2015

When you’re running along bent sideways holding the side of the scooter your small person is zipping along on … it can be a bit ache inducing, that can either be because you get a stitch in your side or your spine is slightly too twisted .. or it can be ache inducing because you are smiling so much your face hurts. Read more…

It’s normal

May 26, 2015
2015-05-25 22.46.25

This piece (written by me at the invitation of the newspaper) was first published as a centre spread feature in the print edition of the Cambridge News on Monday 25th May 2015.

Why Breast isn’t just best … it’s ‘normal’
but women need a lot more support in hospital and at home, says mum Ellie

Former Cambridge News blogger Ellie Stoneley, who became a new mum aged 47, has launched a children’s book, Milky Moments, aimed at normalising breastfeeding. Here, she talks about her own breastfeeding journey…

I’VE never really been a fan of the word ‘normal’ – it seems to represent mundane or average. But in the context of breastfeeding it is a great word, as it means that it is not noteworthy, not something to comment on or criticise. It’s just what happens.

My daughter was premature, she was blue and ‘grunting’ when she was born three years ago, so was whisked off to the SCBU to be monitored. When she was brought back to me, she breastfed a tiny bit, but her mouth seemed way too small for my nipple.

That’s about all I recall, other than the sense of wonder that she’d arrived. All too soon she was taken back to the ward, and I was given another epidural. I woke up feeling as if I was in a dream, not sure any of it was real.

Then a lovely midwife appeared with my baby. She had an IV drip into her tiny hand, various monitors attached, and a little nasal feeding tube through which, I was told, she’d had a bit of formula. I tried again to feed her, she managed a little, but I didn’t seem to be able to hold her quite right. After she was taken back to SCBU I tried to hand express a little milk, a tiny amount came out, and I mean tiny, but I felt triumphant in my dazed state and the precious colostrum was rushed to my daughter.

We both struggled with breastfeeding. I put it down to the nose tube, but it turned out that she had a tongue-tie [when the membrane attaching the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too tight] which also conspired to make it harder for her to latch on. We mixed and matched: we nursed and she bottle-fed the little I’d been able to pump, and formula as well.

Among the presents she received was a tiny book entitled ‘Baby Mealtimes’. It showed bottles, bottle-feeding and spoons of mush. I wondered then why breastfeeding wasn’t featured at all. It was never shown in any of the books she was given.

Some people take to breastfeeding like a duck to water, others struggle, some persist, others give up and some never start. Sadly there are a few, and it really is only a few, new mothers who can’t breastfeed for medical reasons: I have a friend in this situation and my heart goes out to her as I know she would have loved to breastfeed, she has used both donor breastmilk and formula. Another friend, also an incredible mum, decided that she, like her mother and sister before her, didn’t want to start breastfeeding; the midwives respected her decision and showed her how best to bottle feed.

We are all different in our approach to parenting; it’s so important that we respect one another, and that the whole culture of judgement and perceived judgement needs addressing.

I found breastfeeding hard to start with, but I felt able to ask for help, again and again, when I needed it. I was encouraged by midwives and by a wonderful volunteer lactation consultant, who patiently helped with positioning and latch, and slowly but surely we mastered the art. After we left hospital my daughter’s nose tube was finally removed, and we went to Bedford to get her tongue tie cut. When she was just over two weeks old, I went (very anxiously) to a breastfeeding drop-in centre. After that I felt absolutely confident and we were able to actually enjoy breastfeeding in a really relaxed way. We haven’t looked back.

My daughter didn’t breastfeed exclusively until five months, at which point she started refusing a bottle, be it of formula or expressed breastmilk. I was both scared and awed to be solely responsible for her nutrition. We were fine, and three years later she’s got a voracious appetite for pretty much everything, including her ‘milky’, which she still has at bedtime and in the morning or when she feels particularly cheerful or sad.

The merits of breastmilk and breastfeeding, for mother and child, are widely known – but the UK still has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with only 1 per cent of new mothers exclusively breastfeeding at six months – the World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommendation. According to the most recent figures, 81 per cent of new mothers start breastfeeding, 69 per cent continue beyond the first week, and 55 per cent are still nursing six weeks later. By six months, only a third are still breastfeeding at all.

After talking to hundreds of new mothers, and considering the fact that the biggest drop-off points are after the first week and between the six week and six month marks, I believe two things.

Firstly, that women need more support with breastfeeding, both in hospital and once they’re at home, and they need to know that help and support is out there and where to find it.

Secondly, that breastfeeding needs to be normalised. It needs to be seen to be normal by society at large, and in the way it’s portrayed in popular culture.

Locally, we’re well-served by organisations such as the Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance and the La Leche League, who offer helplines, drop-in sessions and tea and cake mornings, and are always on-hand both on and offline to offer advice. The Rosie has several expert breastfeeding advisers among its wonderful midwives, and there are many peer-to-peer support services online. We just need to shout about them and to share the information about them with new mothers and mums-to-be. Sadly, all these services are faced with funding cuts and also need our support to keep on running.

As for popular culture, the kind of news coverage of the furore around Nigel Farage telling women to breastfeed in a corner, or Claridge’s telling a mother to nurse under a table napkin, make many women feel anxious about breastfeeding in public. They needn’t be! The reality is that the vast majority of new mothers feeding in public get supportive comments, if any. I’ve been offered a cushion, glasses of water, a cup of hot chocolate, even a free meal and lots of encouragement, and received no negative comments.

In cultural terms, soap operas and TV generally show bottle rather than breastfeeding as part of daily life with a new baby. Baby doll toys come with a feeding bottle attached, and children’s books almost always depict images of bottle-feeding, or simply pictures of bottles.

Children that grow up never seeing breastfeeding at home and only seeing bottle-feeding on TV or in their books are surely less likely to want to breastfeed their own babies when the time comes. They’ll also be far less likely to ask for help with breastfeeding as it has never been part of their lives, other than to read stories in the tabloids of nursing mothers being harassed by politicians or some random fool who should know better.

That’s what inspired me to write Milky Moments, a rhyming picture book for children and their families depicting breastfeeding as a normal part of day-to-day life. Illustrated by local artist Jessica D’Alton Goode, it has sold out twice on Amazon since its launch this month, and has received great reviews from parents and children alike.

I will strive for my daughter to grow up in a society where breastfeeding is perceived as the norm, where women nursing in public aren’t picked out as ostentatious, where feeding a child the way nature intended isn’t only discussed in schools as part of sex education.

I also want her to live in a society where mothers, having made decisions on nurturing their children based on fact and circumstance, are supported – and are not criticised, judged or forced to defend those decisions, whatever they are

Milky Moments is published by Pinter and Martin, priced £11.99. It’s available from Amazon.co.uk & elsewhere online, and will be stocked in shops across Cambridge over coming weeks.

A book reading is planned in Balzano’s coffee shop in Cherry Hinton Road, which is very welcoming to nursing mothers, next month and the book will be sold in Cherry Hinton Road Post Office next door: follow facebook.com/milkymomentsbook for updates.

Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance can be contacted at bfsupportmatters.org.uk, and La Leche League at lllcambridge.weebly.com/

Cambridge News centre spread 25th May 2015

Cambridge News centre spread 25th May 2015

PS as of 27th May the Cambridge News have now put the story online at http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/s-time-normalise-breastfeeding-says-Cambridge/story-26580993-detail/story.html all and any positive comments would be  appreciated there as it helps to spread the ‘this is NORMAL’ word.

#celebratebreastfeeding #normalizebreastfeeding #normalisebreastfeeding #gotmilk